Today, I would like to speak about a topic which is often stigmatised within our society; dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term, which encapsulates different diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and Vascular Dementia. In general, dementia is a clinical condition that refers to deficits both in cognition and behaviour, effecting the life of the individual. Dementia is NOT, a normal part of ageing. Obviously, there are other diseases that fall under the term of dementia however, for the purpose of these two blogs, I will be focusing solely on these two. The reason for this is because they are the most common forms of dementia. In this blog, I will be focusing on Alzheimer’s disease, what it is, risk factors and how we can help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. The following blog will specifically focus on Vascular Dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease affects million of individuals around the globe. This disease starts impacting the individual’s activities of daily life. Hence, a lot of support is needed for the individual. The disease can vary in severity and duration, however usually the individual can suffer from it up to 20 years. Sadly, this disease is more often than not fatal. Mostly, this illness occurs during late life and it involves a gradual decline in cognitive functioning. The individual, starts becoming aware of their decline which in turn can be very distressing as they cannot control it. It is characterised by memory difficulties, problem in word-finding skills, personality changes, problem in decision making and planning. Unfortunately, the rates of forgetting in Alzheimer’s disease is stronger than other dementias.
Therefore, individuals with Alzheimer’s require round the clock care. This can be stressful for the carer as they need to constantly attend to their needs. It can be highly risky to leave them alone, as they have a tendency to forget what they are doing such as cooking and forgetting the cooker on for hour. Unfortunately, there is no specific cure for it, therefore the best way to help individuals with the disease is through psychosocial interventions, apart from certain medicines. Sadly, individuals with Alzheimer’s can also suffer from loneliness and lack of contact with others. They may have unfulfilled needs such as loss of identity, lack of comfort and inclusion and not being loved. It is therefore important to support the individual with Alzheimer’s; entering their world and being there for them, loving and appreciating them as much as possible.
Danica Cassar is a third-year psychology student at the University of Malta. She is the Triage Manager at Willingness.com.mt.